/ 24 August 2021

Honouring Josephine Baker

French cultural icon Josephine Baker will enter the Panthéon mausoleum in Paris, making her the 6th woman and the first black woman to receive the nation’s highest honour. Baker was born in America but moved to Paris in 1925 to escape racism and segregation, and she rose to fame in the 1930s as crowds went bananas for her banana skirt dance. During WWII, she helped the French Resistance by collecting information from German officials at parties and carrying hidden messages to England and other countries. And in the 1960s, she returned to the US to bolster the civil rights movement. Baker died in Paris in 1975 and was buried in Monaco in a ceremony led by her longtime friend Princess Grace. Her body will remain there, but on 30 November, a memorial with a plaque will be added to the Panthéon. Eighty of France’s national heroes are buried there, including scientist Marie Curie, philosopher Voltaire, and writer Victor Hugo.

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